Is KGB, the Trivia Text Service, Advertising Itself to Death?

Last Updated Sep 18, 2009 11:52 AM EDT

It feels unkind to pick on KGB, the trivia-question-answering text-message service, but they do so much juvenile advertising it's hard to ignore the company. Here's the problem: Why would anyone pay 99 cents for a question answered via text when Google can answer the same question for free?

The answer seems to be that many people still do not have mobile phones that can browse the web, so there's still a niche KGB can fill (a bit like telephone modem internet lines in the countryside). But the writing is on the wall for non-smart phones. Pretty soon, we'll all be using iPhones or MyTouch-es. Even those who don't have them will have a friend who does.

So this is a company that is advertising itself into the grave. And viewers seem to have figured that out. Under KGB's commercials, created by The Brooklyn Brothers, on YouTube, you can see comments like this:

Pretty sure KGB is just one dude sitting at his desk googling crap all day long and racking up the cash. Wish I had thought of it...
I don't get this service. Why would somebody pay $.99 to get answers to such burning questions as who the 1st baseman for the Red Sox in 1986 was? Isn't that what Google was created for?
In fact, if you read the Knowledge Generation Bureau's Wikipedia page, it turns out that KGB is indeed a "dude sitting at his desk googling crap all day long":
kgb_ maintains a network of US-based Special Agent employees working from home, via the internet, in order to handle the volume of queries they receive. These employees work as independent contractors, earning 0.10 USD per complete answer, and 0.05 USD per automated answer verification (as of August, 2009).
Quality control is achieved via employees known as "Quality Agents", who approve answers prior to delivery, make adjustments where necessary, perform quality reviews, and provide feedback to Special Agents. Quality Agents' salaries follow a schedule similar to that of Special Agents.
In the meantime, KGB is keeping the airwaves filled with a constant supply of boobs and immaturity. In an early ad, the female KGB agent loses her dress in a bet and ends up in just a bikini. This ad did a better job of promoting the Smart car than it did the text service, and also ended with girls in bikinis. A later ad, set in a bra shop, revolved around a joke about melons. The current spot defines "brain farts."

The ads serve only to draw attention to the company's lack of corporate strategy.

And finally: You probably won't be seeing much of this almost-racist KGB ad about the origins of hair weaves.